Saturday, April 26, 2008

staring at the ceiling

Yep. I am pretty certain that must have been caffeinated coffee I was given after dinner because its now 12am and I'm still staring at the ceiling. Correction, I am staring into a black abyss but I'm pretty certain there would be a ceiling if I turned on the light.

Speaking of which, I am considering turning on the light to check if charlotte has a handsaw and a pile of logs over on her side of the bed. Or is she just snoring?

Don't worry, I haven't been wasting my time laying here for the past few hours. I am almost done with inventing a special handheld cooling device for people running long distances in hot weather.I can tell you it involves a CO2 cartridge to provide the necessary coolant but I'm still working out the final details so I don't expect production to start before the morning.

PS we found coco the bear halfway up a fig tree and lucy has been sleeping like a baby since. (Like a baby that sleeps continuously for 12 hour periods, not the type that wakes up screaming on the hour thankfully)

it's a DRY heat...

Well - I mentioned a few days ago I did the Ironman in Tempe, Arizona the other week. I wrote this report up about a week ago but now i am a "blogger" I suppose I ought to post it up here for posterity....

So here is the story of the day:

Ironman Arizona, Tempe, AZ - April 13th 2008.

I woke up at about 3:30am, 30mins before my alarm and felt noticeably more calm than I had prior to my previous ironman races - the benefit of having a 3 hr time difference in my favor meant I had been able to sleep since 8pm so I felt nicely rested and ready to go. I had applied a layer of sunscreen the night before in order to maximize absorption and applied a second layer before dressing. Although it was forecast to be a very hot day the mornings are quite cool in the desert so my new True-Motion Transition jacket with a toasty fleece lining was perfect for wearing until it was time to put on my wetsuit. Breakfast was a peanut butter and jelly bagel and a banana at 4:30am and I steadily sipped a bottle of water with one scoop of carbo pro between then and the race start.

Upon arrival in Transition I set about completing my bike setup adding my powermeter, waterbottles, taping a banana to the aerobars and inflating my tires. The next task was body marking so I found two volunteers with marker pens wearing my T-Zero jacket and said to them "How do you like these sleeve zips??" with a grin. They took one sleeve each, unzipped and wrote my number 697 on my upper arm and zipped them back up - easy! I spent the next 15mins sitting by my bike listening to my ipod going over my race plan one more time and then found my family for a few last minute "good luck"s before donning my wetsuit and heading to the start.


I started out all the way on the left side about 10m back from the start line hoping to avoid too much congestion. There was some physical contact during first 10 mins or so but nothing like I had experienced in Lake placid which is a much narrower start and i was able to keep my mind focused on my stroke rather than avoiding a beating which helped me relax into a nice rhythm. Swimming into the sun meant sighting was virtually impossible so i just went with the flow and ended up staying pretty close to the buoys. This probably cost a few seconds rather than taking a more direct route to the turn around on the slight dog leg course. Being a one lap swim made the feel really long so i had no idea if i was swimming well or not. On the return portion i ended up going quite wide to the right and although I enjoyed the lack of congestion i again probably swam a little further than normal. I exited the swim in 1:09:57 which was a PR by about 2 mins so I was encouraged as I head off into T1 to prepare for the bike. The swim is always my least favorite discipline so I always feel good running into T1!


Being a pretty average swimmer the transition tent is usually a mob scene for me in T1 so I opted for grabbing my T1 bag and sitting on the grass outside the tent to give myself more room. I made the mistake of not clearing the grassing cuttings off my feet when I put on my bike shoes which proved to be somewhat annoying during the bike but fortunately didn’t cause any blisters. I put on my aero helmet and sunglasses, handed off my T1 bag to a volunteer, was lathered up with more sunscreen by more volunteers and ran off to pick up my bike.


Having a powermeter on my bike for the first time in a race was to make pacing a simple numbers game and had eliminated a lot of the normal pre-race anxiety I might have about not going too hard to blow up my run. The plan was to ride the course at an average of 73% of my threshold power which I had calculated 3 weeks prior so all I had to do in theory was pay attention to the powermeter and ignore all the riders around me. The out portion of each lap was directly into a very strong headwind so the powermeter was invaluable in keeping my mind positive as watching speeds often as low as 14 and 15mph would have been very depressing had I not been able to see I was doing the appropriate amount of work. During the latter portion of the swim I started getting some abdominal discomfort and this was getting progressively worse on the bike so after the turn around I decided to take a quick pit stop at the aid station. I immediately felt much better and the slight downhill and strong tailwind for the return portion meant I was soon hitting 35mph and flying passed others as I aimed to keep my watts close to my goal. Coming into town for the start of the second loop I felt great and although my average watts were about 69% my average speed was now above expected so I was feeling positive about a great bike split. As I made my way through the second loop I noticed my Heart Rate start to rise along with the air temperature and it started to get more difficult to ride even just below my goal watts. On the final loop this got much worse and I started to get very frustrated as a struggled more and more to generate the watts and was feeling pretty rough. In my training rides I was comfortable riding at over 80% towards the end of my 5 and 6 hr rides so it was really demoralizing to barely hit 60% on race day trying to keep my HR and perceived exertion in check. I stayed focused on being as aero as possible to minimize the time damage but was pretty miserable and took two bathroom stops, probably more for a mental break than anything else! The final tailwind made me feel a little better coming back into T2 but I was certainly not enjoying myself and desperate to get onto the run course. On reflection i think the deterioration in the second half of the bike was probably due to cooking my brain inside my aero helmet as i was having no real problems getting the nutrition down...

Nutrition on the bike went down exactly as planned:
One banana, 4 bottles of Carbo pro (3 scoops with 2 nuun tabs in each), 3 gels, about 6 or 7 salt pills plus a bottle of water either drunk or poured over me for every aid station (~ every 10 miles)

(see bottom of report if you care to see the power data from my ergomo)

I entered the T2 tent extremely relieved to be off the bike but at the same time anxious how well I would fair running in the 95F heat. The volunteers were as exceptional as ever, putting cold wet towels on my neck while I put on my runners, soaking my running hat with iced water and applying sunscreen. I overheard a guy next to me say “it was not going to be a PR day” which gave me a much needed push to reassess my goals for the race. My only real goal prior to starting had been to run an exceptional marathon and hopefully get under three and a half hours but I knew with the conditions of the day I needed to simply run as well as I could relative to the field and forget about any time goals.

The Run

Starting out on the marathon my plan to keep cool was to wear a latex glove and have it filled with ice at each aid station, the theory being that cooling the blood in the hand would then flow through the body and hence work as a central cooling system. I quickly discovered while this would certainly help keep my core cool the extra dry conditions would also require much greater fluid ingestion than normal so I knew it was going to be a delicate balance getting in enough fluid and calories without creating any dreaded GI distress. By mile three I was feeling really lousy and as the course makes a return to transition area soon after I was seriously thinking about calling it a day. However, I then realized I was actually running pretty well relative to everyone else on the course and continuously passing people so this helped start to turn things around. By the fourth aid station I had figured out the “system” that seemed to work at each aid station and made a decision to stick with this routine for the remainder of the race. I slowed to a walk, took put three wet sponges down my tri top, downed some water, put ice in my glove, downed some coke, sipped some more water and threw a bunch over my head and over the sponges in my top and got straight back into running. I knew I was walking a fine line between getting in enough fluids and having a stomach explosion so I forced myself to keep the pace steady – better to be able to maintain this pace throughout than create serious issues in my stomach and end up having to walk. For the same reason I opted to avoid the gels I was planning to use and simply have coke and water for the whole marathon and thankfully the plan seemed to work just fine. After the first loop I started to feel pretty good, my legs felt reasonably fresh so I became confident I could sustain my pace through the finish. I actually enjoyed both the 2nd and final loops of the run and sure enough barely dropped my pace as more and more of the people I was passing were now walking something of a death march. I ran down the finish chute high fiving the crowd and took some time to enjoy the moment. Although I’d not biked and run quite as fast as I was hoping I was thrilled with how well I had executed the race in these circumstances and especially hold a down virtually even paced marathon together. Final marathon time was 3:42:56 (run splits below)

Overall finish time 10:51:05 :beer:

Charlotte, Lucy and I shortly after the finish...

Run splits:
1 0:08:36
2 0:07:51
3 0:08:39
4 0:08:32
5 0:08:32
6 0:08:47
7 0:08:26
8 0:08:26
9 0:08:20
10 0:08:06
11 0:08:11
12 0:08:33
13 0:08:33
14 0:08:19
15 0:08:56
16 0:08:33
17 0:08:29
18 0:08:29
19 0:08:37
20 0:08:39
21 0:08:35
22 0:08:35
23 0:09:03
24 0:08:53
25 0:08:35
26.2 0:09:37

Bike Power Data:
lap 1:
Duration: 1:49:05 (1:49:52)
Work: 1008 kJ
TSS: 88.8 (intensity factor 0.699)
Norm Power: 156
VI: 1.01
Distance: 37.521 mi
Heart Rate: 140 bpm
Cadence: 94 rpm
Speed: 20.6 mph
Temperature: 87.3 Fahrenheit

lap 2:
Duration: 1:49:00 (1:49:13)
Work: 974 kJ
TSS: 83.6 (intensity factor 0.679)
Norm Power: 151
VI: 1.02
Distance: 35.519 mi
Heart Rate: 148 bpm
Cadence: 93 rpm
Speed: 19.6 mph
Temperature: 101.5 Fahrenheit

lap 3:
Duration: 2:08:40 (2:12:19)
Work: 1001 kJ
TSS: 77.2 (intensity factor 0.6)
Norm Power: 134
VI: 1.03
Distance: 39.817 mi
Heart Rate: 146 bpm
Cadence: 90 rpm
Speed: 18.6 mph
Temperature: 105.2 Fahrenheit

Entire workout (143 watts):
Duration: 5:46:50 (5:51:29)
Work: 2982 kJ
TSS: 251.8 (intensity factor 0.66)
Norm Power: 147
VI: 1.03
Distance: 112.863 mi
Heart Rate: 145 bpm
Cadence: 92 rpm
Speed: 19.5 mph
Temperature: 98.4 Fahrenheit

Emergency on planet earth

We have a bit of an Emergency right now....It's Lucy's nap time but we can't find Coco the Bear! We had a bit of a throwing-up incident in the car seat last night and Coco ended up going for a swim in the carrot soup. Fortunately we managed to toss him in the washing machine overnight and Shamu the stuffed killer whale seemed to suffice as cuddly toy of choice for the night. But no longer will he do. Now we need Coco and we can't find him! I checked the dryer - no joy. I checked the balcony - no joy.

As if it wasn't bad enough that I tore Lucy away from the jar of peanut butter...

Friday, April 25, 2008

new calling?

So I went to the bike shop today to get measured for a new bike. The guy took a bunch of different measurements of my anatomy and said "you know, if the triathlon thing doesn't work out for you, perhaps you should take up boxing?"

I thought about giving him a left hook and then I realized he was telling I have extra long arms! Good to know I suppose and I'll have to think of a few advantages this gives me in life...

Still, not sure how appealing boxing would be. I guess he didn't notice how big a target my nose would present to any would be pugilist?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Out West

So this is a bit late but since I only started the blog today, I feel like playing a little Catch up...

The family were on vacation last week...The Family meaning not only Charlotte, Lucy and I but also Gran and Grandad who were visting from the UK.

The first part of the vacation involved 4 days in Tempe Arizona. I was participating in the Ironman Triathlon and in fact for this leg of the trip we had even more family with us - Charlotte's father Peter and his wife Chris joined the cheering crew for a very long day in the desert. (More about that later...).

So here is a pic from the Desert:

That's me and my mom (aka Gran) - the picture was taken the day after the race which might explain why I am looking a little malnourished. btw, behind us is a Cactus, not Grandad. He is a little less prickly, even when he hasn't shaved for a day or two.

Following on from Arizona we took a drive across the desert in our own version of the Mystery Machine with Grandad at the helm, Charlotte as first officer, Lucy and Gran blowing bubbles and me trying to avoid turning green with my head between my knees. After about 4 hrs of desert we had seen plenty of cacti and plenty of REALLY LOOOOONG freight trains so we decided it would be fun to watch the temperature gauge drop as we Ascended the mountains along Interstate Route 10. Starting temp a sea level was 99F (we did actually hit 100F earlier though - woo hoo!) and as we gained elevation the levels of excitement inside the car reached titanic levels as we watch the temperature drop before our eyes. By the summit at 4,400ft we had dropped 30 degrees of Fahrenheit to an astonishing 69F! Can you believe it? Nor could we. OK, now i am rambling...

Approximately 6hrs post departure we arrived in the beautiful Island of Coronado. This was home for 3 nights staying with the Maden Family (Ken and Joan) who have been family friends for over 20 years. During our stay in San Diego we took in a ball game at Petco Park (my first visit to the relatively new home of my team the Padres) and Lucy made her first trip to Sea World. She was thrilled with all the shows loving Shamu, Dolly the dolphin and the Seals but I think her favorite was seeing the cats and dogs as she's a lot more familiar with them.

The final stage of the trip was spent in Huntington Beach visiting Charlotte's Aunt Cary and her husband Joe. We of course HAD to take in a day at Disney being so Close and below is a picture of Lucy riding the Carousel.

Here is Lucy, Granddad and a cow. (Gran would point out that Grandad is the one in the baseball cap)

The final stop on the tour was to In-n-out burger. Normally it is absolutely my first port of call when landing in California but my stomach hadn't been feeling 100% since the race so I only made it in the nick of time before we left. The usual order of 2 double doubles animal style of course but this time I added an order of Animal Style Fries. During my last visit to Cali, Fries had been on the banned list so this was the first time I'd been able to sample the animal fries. would i recommend them? hmmmm...perhaps without animal style burgers! (just a bit too much animal going on if you ask me...). I'll see if i can find a pic to post later...

EDIT: Here's a pic. Looking more delicious as the memory of in-n-out grows fonder.

first day stuff..

Wow. I did it. I have landed safely in the nerd kingdom of Blogosphere. Hmmm...the weather seems fine and the ice cream is delicioso! Perhaps I'll stick around...